Thor Hushovd turns 34 today, giving us a good excuse to celebrate the Norse God of Thunder.
The most successful Scandinavian cyclist to date, the mighty Thor has won the Tour de France’s green jersey twice: first in 2005 and then, in slightly controversial circumstances, in 2009. Once the officials demoted Mark Cavendish in stage 14’s sprint finish, it looked like Thor had the green jersey sewn up. However, his audacious 80km solo ride through the mountains on stage 17 to pick up a cluster of intermediate points proved to the doubters that he was a deserving winner of the maillot vert in Paris.
The year after, Thor became World Champion in Geelong in a fantastic sprint finish.
His year in the rainbow jersey was, on the whole, successful, racing for the merged Garmin-Cervelo team. He had stated emphatically that he wanted to win Paris-Roubaix in the rainbow jersey – a victory that has so far eluded him, finishing third in 2009 to big Tom Boonen and second to a rampant Fabian Cancellara in 2010. Unfortunately for Thor, his teammate Johan Vansummeren was up the road and on his way to a classic Classics win, so he was instructed by his team car to sit on Cancellara’s wheel to keep Spartacus in check. In the end, Cancellara finished second, while Thor finished eighth.
Although he didn’t win the green jersey in the 2011 Tour de France (and wasn’t really ever in the running), he certainly covered himself in glory. Garmin’s victory in stage 2’s team time trial put him in the maillot jaune for the next seven days. But he wasn’t satisfied with that, going on to win stages 13 and 16 in majestic form. Just listen to the Norwegian commentator declaring his love for Thor around the third minute in the following film clip of stage 13.
2012 is shaping up to be a big year for Thor. Moving from Garmin to Team BMC, how will he settle in with Philippe Gilbert and Cadel Evans? Will he finally win Paris-Roubaix? And will Cavendish’s change of team and reduced lead-out train mean the green jersey is within reach for a tough, smart Norwegian? We have all year to find out … Gratulerer med dagen, Thor!